Perry stands alone in his support for the Trans-Texas Corridor
By JONATHAN BLUNDELL
Waxahatchie Daily Light
If the Trans-Texas Corridor is the modern day line in the sand, each of the gubernatorial candidates have crossed over and left Gov. Rick Perry standing all alone.
Each of the Perry’s four opponents have expressed their displeasure with the current TTC plan over the last several months.
“I am adamantly opposed to this massive toll plan,” Strayhorn said. “Rick Perry calls it Trans-Texas Corridor. I call it Trans-Texas Catastrophe and as governor I will blast it off the bureaucratic books.”
In May, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported that Perry’s appointed chairman of the Texas Department of Transportation told North Texas elected officials and business leaders, “If you aggressively invite the private sector to be your partner, you can’t tell them where to build the road.”
“Texas property belongs to Texans, not foreign companies; Texas freeways belong to Texans, not foreign companies,” Strayhorn said. “We will not sit quietly by and let this governor embark on the largest land grab in history and cram toll roads down our throats.”
Strayhorn has also made appearances at TxDOT public hearings for the TTC declaring her stance against the project.
But Democratic candidate Chris Bell sees Strayhorn’s stance as a political flip-flop.
“In 2001, state Comptroller Carole Strayhorn officially recommended that Texas build more toll roads all across the state,” Bell said. “In 2003, Rick Perry took her up on that recommendation when he rammed through the bill creating the TTC, a $184 billion land grab that will go down as one of the largest boondoggles in our state’s history. The toll road plan recommended by Strayhorn and passed by Perry will destroy almost 1.5 million acres of prime farmland and will strip Texas landowners of over 150 square miles of privately owned property. All so that Rick Perry could hand out billions of dollars in sweetheart deals to some of his biggest campaign contributors. I think it’s time we applied something as radical as common sense to this debacle.”
If elected, Bell promises to slam the brakes on the whole plan.
“This is corruption you could see from space,” Bell said. “Rick Perry just can’t justify giving billion dollar sweetheart deals to his largest contributors. And Carole Strayhorn can pound the podium as loudly as she wants, but she can’t change the fact that it was her staunch and vocal support of toll roads that helped put this ball in motion in the first place. Our leaders have sold us out to the highest bidder, and we need new leaders in Austin if we want to get serious about ending the culture of corruption and cleaning up the Capitol.”
Independent candidate Kinky Friedman has compared the toll road being built by Spanish company Cintra to the previous national debate over Dubai companies running ports in America.
“Folks, this is a bad idea,” he said. “It’s like having Dubai run the ports of America. I have an idea. Instead of the TTC, take four highways across Texas, name them after Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bob Wills and Buddy Holly, none of them toll roads.”
Friedman said he’s opposed the Trans-Texas Corridor since it relies on toll road construction.
He feels that the TTC is a land grab of the ugliest kind, with land being taken from hard-working ranchers and farmers in little towns and villages all over Texas.
“The people who will ultimately own that land are the same people who own the governor,” a spokesman for the Friedman campaign said.
Libertarian candidate James Werner said he believes there’s a need for the TTC, but doesn’t agree with all aspects of the plan.
“I’m a pragmatic libertarian,” Werner said. “I’m not a committed anti-government libertarian. I think the state has some responsibility to assist in the state’s infrastructure and I want Texas to continue to be economically attractive as it can be. But our current highway system is not up to the task. I have a couple proposals which tentatively agree with the TTC but with the TTC I’m appalled about the seizure of private property and eminent domain needs to be done with extreme sensitivity.”
Werner also suggests land owners who lose their land to the TTC should be offered shares in the private company.
“Personally I would like to privatize all our roads,” Werner said. “There are three areas where we have the most problems in our state, that’s health care, transportation and education. And each of them suffers from the most government intervention.”
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